The last part of this series on stuttering focuses on some social myths and how they relate to stuttering, as presented by Craig Coleman, M.A., CCC-SLP. Each myth is presented below.
- A praised child is a happy child. Research shows that children who are praised more frequently may become more competitive. Additionally, it is more difficult for them to learn from mistakes efficiently. People who are more persistent can maintain effort for longer time periods between praise. During intervention, it is important to vary how frequently we praise the child, we must make sure to praise the effort, not the result. It’s ok to make mistakes. As we learned in part one of this series, the child is working on very challenging techniques that an adult will have difficulty with.
- Children are smaller versions of adults. Research shows that children need more sleep than adults. Sleep is a big factor in a child’s overall performance, with a lack of sleep associated with ADHD, obesity, and depression. Children who stutter are more likely to stutter when they are tired.
- Wait until the child is older to talk about sensitive topics. Thinking back to our discussion of the ABCs of stuttering, we need to help a child who stutters have pride in his/her accomplishments. This might include educating other people who stutter or becoming part of the stuttering community. We may also help the child become the “expert” on stuttering to educate peers and set a positive tone for interacting with peers. This component will vary for each child, but it’s important to know that we can start discussing all parts of the ABCs of stuttering at a young age.
- Keep the siblings at home and out of therapy. This is a partial myth. At times, it may be important to work with the child individually and away from siblings, particularly when learning new and challenging skills. However, as the child becomes more comfortable with the strategies, it is important he/she practice the strategies with different communication partners. This includes siblings. Research has shown that children spend at least 10 minutes per hour arguing with siblings. Many parents report that they observe increased stuttering when the child is upset or emotional. Bringing a sibling into the treatment room is a great way to practice strategies and build social skills.